1) A pardon-a-palooza: If Trump loses, nearly everyone expects an unprecedented flurry of presidential pardons in his last 77 days — a way both to reward friends, protect his family, tweak his opponents and curry favor with those who may help him when he is back in private life. “The pardon power operates in the way he imagines the presidency to operate — you wave your hand and it’s done,” says Quinta Jurecic, the managing editor of the blog Lawfare. “I’m absolutely expecting him to do something weird.”…
Experts expect a few different buckets of post-election pardons: First, presidential get-out-of-jail-free cards for those already caught up in the Russia investigation — people like Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and perhaps including Paul Manafort, who has repeatedly obstructed and stymied efforts to pierce what really transpired during the 2016 campaign. The one exception who might be left out in the cold? His former lawyer Michael Cohen, who Trump believes betrayed him by cooperating with investigators and speaking publicly.
Second, look for the possibility of blanket, preemptive pardons for the president’s own family, close friends and campaign associates. Presidential pardons — as Gerald Ford demonstrated in pardoning Nixon — don’t require existing criminal charges; they can also be used to block attempts to bring federal charges in the future. Trump’s application in this category could include both people already under criminal indictment — like Steve Bannon — those who appear to be under federal investigation, like Brad Parscale and Rudy Giuliani, as well as perhaps even family members like Jared Kushner, Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric who may face investigation and charges after Trump leaves office. As president, he’s repeatedly offered pardons to officials involved in some of his controversial policies, like immigration enforcement and child separation, and he could also issue blanket pardons to cabinet secretaries, agency heads and other loyal government officials that would allow them to skirt any post-Trump investigations into their actions in office. Any actions along these lines would surely ignite political firestorms — and might lead to Congress attempting to legislate limits on presidential pardon authority going forward — but for now there’s not much that can be done to appeal or fight a presidential pardon.
The third type of presidential pardons or commutations that might emerge from the White House post-election is what might be called the “Fox & Friends and Friends of Fox” category.